River tubing, Amazon hiking and city exploring in South America

Head on a jungle-jaunting and city-slicking adventure, from Quito to Lima. This nine-day Lonely Planet Experience gets you straight into the action – crashing waterfalls, jungle thickets, steaming hot springs, colourful markets and colonial architecture. Test yourself on a rainforest hike and canoeing experience along the Arajuno River, learn chocolate-making with your local hosts at an Amazon community lodge, and down as many pisco sours and ceviche as you can handle. With local knowledge along the way and freedom to explore vibrant city neighbourhoods and create your own independent adventures, this slice of South America is yearning for adventure.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Lima, Peru
Destinations
Ecuador, Peru
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
GGBE
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Admire the colonial architecture and bustling plazas of Quito's World Heritage-listed Old Town as you join your small group on a leader-led orientation walk around this high-flying capital.

  • Discover the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon as you take a boat to a community lodge deep in the rainforest. Your welcoming hosts will introduce you to their way of life as you get a true insight into local living.

  • Banos is a hotspot for volcanoes, hot springs and waterfalls, and with plenty of time to explore at your own pace you'll get to experience everyhing you can handle in this adventure lover’s dream location.

  • Immerse yourself in nature on a guided hike through the Amazon rainforest, spotting the unique insects and birdlife that call this precious ecosystem home.

  • Head out on a city tour of Lima, visiting Miraflores and downtown, and join the Peruvian nightlife in the neighbourhood of Barranco, perhaps sipping cervezas with your newfound travel pals.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves a lot of travel on local buses, including some long stints (8 hours from Banos to Cuenca and 6 hours from Cuenca to Tumbes), and conditions can be basic. Bus travel can be tiring, but it’s also a great opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery.

  • The diversity of the weather here makes for incredible scenery – we’ll be experiencing a mix of hot and cold climates, so pack accordingly and bring layers. It’s important to wear sunscreen and other sun protection, and always drink plenty of water.

  • Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit some people can suffer altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. If possible, arrive into Quito a few days early to allow yourself time to acclimatise. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip information for more details about altitude sickness.

Itinerary

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. After the important meeting, join your leader on a walking tour of the historic centre of Quito. Stroll through Plaza Grande (main square) and by the Archbishop's Palace. From here, walk about 800 metres uphill to reach the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Time permitting, you may wish to spend more time exploring this church and its views from the top towers. Finally, walk to La Ronda Street and pass by La Compania de Jesus and San Francisco churches. At the end of the walk, your leader will recommend a local restaurant on La Ronda Street for an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Quito - Leader Led Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Quito - Sweet & Culinary Experience - Urban Adventures - USD103
  • Condors and Culture in Otavalo - USD156
  • Quito Market Discovery - USD99
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Quito is located 2800 metres above sea level, where it’s common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude – regardless of your age, gender or fitness. Please refer to the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip Information for important details about altitude sickness.

Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do, so a few extra days here before the trip starts is highly recommended. If you would like to spend more time in Quito, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Get ready for an an early start, as you’ll be on the move by 7 am. Catch a local bus from Quito Central Station to Tena (approximately 5 hours). From Tena, travel by private vehicle to Misahualli and then by boat to your Amazon Jungle lodge for the next two nights, arriving by approximately 1.30 pm, just in time for lunch. In the afternoon, your local hosts will take you on a walk around the area. Use this opportunity to try some fresh fruit and – if you’re feeling brave – tree worms. Finish the afternoon making an authentic chocolate dessert from scratch. With the help of the host, you’ll roast, grind and conche chocolate beans into your own chocolate sauce. Delicioso!
Accommodation
  • Community Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Note that there is no toilet on board the bus today, but there will be a stop for a toilet break during the journey.

The main focus of this Amazon Jungle stay is to learn about the local indigenous communities and their ways of living. While here, you may be able to see a number of small animals (butterflies, spiders and some monkeys), it's unlikely you will see an abundance of wildlife. Your lodge for the evening lodge is basic and it consists of a bed and linen. Bathroom facilities are shared, and showers are refreshingly cold.
In the morning after breakfast, travel by canoe for 45 minutes to the starting point of today's hike. The hike (approximately 4–5 hours, depending on the group's pace) is relatively easy. During the hike, visit a protected private reserve in the secondary rainforest. This is also a great opportunity to spot insects and birds that call this precious ecosystem home. During the walk, you’ll come to understand the importance of the jungle to the local community as your guide provides in-depth knowledge and history. Afterwards, enjoy a packed lunch on the banks of the Arajuno River, then strap in for the opportunity to go river tubing. The activity will last around an hour, and then you’ll jump back on the canoes and travel back to the Amazon lodge (approximately 1.5 hours). Once you get back to the lodge there will be time to shower and freshen up for dinner. After dinner, head out on a night jungle walk.
Accommodation
  • Community Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
During today’s river tubing activity, while the water currents are not particularly strong, Intrepid’s safety policy states that all travellers must wear a life jacket if they wish to take part.
Enjoy breakfast at around 7 am in the lodge. Bid your hosts farewell, travel back to Tena the same way you arrived, then catch a local bus to Banos (approximately 3 hours). You should arrive in the city of Banos around midday, with the rest of the day free for you to do as you wish. Perhaps use your free time soaking in the city's natural baths or go for a hike into the valley and to the powerful falls of Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Banos - Hot Springs entrance fee - USD6
  • Banos - Steam baths - USD15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Banos has traditionally been known as the outdoor centre of Ecuador with a number of popular high-risk activities being offered to travellers. The safety of our travellers and staff is our first priority. As such, Intrepid has gone through due processes and assessed local suppliers and their safety standards in Banos. Unfortunately, to date none of the local operators in the area have been able to pass Intrepid's minimum safety standards. As a consequence, we have instructed local leaders to share with you our safety concerns and discourage travellers from taking part in these type of activities at this destination, and strictly forbid them from helping travellers arrange these activities. Fortunately, Banos has plenty more to offer than high-risk activities and we are confident that you will have a great time exploring the area under the guidance of our knowledgeable local leaders.
Enjoy a full day to explore Banos and take advantage of some of the optional activities. Perhaps rise early to watch the sunrise over the mountains near the hot springs. After breakfast, venture to Nuestra Senora del Agua Santa (Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water) and see the intricate murals that depict numerous stories about the virgin. You might also be able to fit in a visit to the Devil’s Cauldron today. If you have time, stroll around the local artisan markets to pick up a memento of the city. If your trip falls on the weekend or during the holidays, be prepared for carnival-like festivities that take place all over town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Banos - Pailon del Diablo
  • Banos - The tree house
  • Pailon del Diablo waterfall (Devil's Cauldron) - Entrance fee
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a local bus to Riobamba (approximately 3 hours), where you’ll swap buses and head south to Cuenca (approximately 5 hours). Cuenca may well be Ecuador's best-looking city. There are lots of impressive 500-year-old churches and colonial buildings, many made out of marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. Cuenca is the home of the renowned Panama hat, and if there’s time you could visit a factory and pick up one that fits perfectly. There's also a buzzing nightlife here, due in no small part to the university population.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cuenca - Turi view point - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Meet up with your leader this morning and get to know Cuenca better with an orientation walk. Trundle along cobblestone streets, check out colonial parks and markets and stop by the monumental cathedral at the centre. The rest of the day is free to explore Cuenca and the surrounding area. If you’re feeling cultural, maybe head to the Museo Pumapungo, which features an impressive range of artistic, historical, cultural, and ethnological exhibits, including a collection of real shrunken heads from the Shuar civilisation – if you dare. Otherwise, maybe get out of town to El Cajas National Park, home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Tonight, get some sleep – you have a very early start in the morning.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cuenca - Leader Led Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Cuenca - El Cajas National Park - USD60
  • Cuenca - Historian led tour of old Cuenca - USD20
  • Cuenca - Ingapirca ruins - USD40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
At approximately 3 am, begin by taking a taxi to the bus station in Cuenca, then a public bus south-east towards the coast and town of Huanquillas (approximately 5–6 hours). After crossing the border into Peru, make your way to the Tumbes Airport before flying to Lima, capital of Peru. Touch down and meet your new leader before heading to your hotel in Miraflores which sits conveniently by the beach. In the afternoon, embark on an orientation walk through Miraflores, passing the arty markets, shops, restaurants and bars before enjoying an evening at your leisure. Enjoy a free evening, perhaps spending it with some of your travel group over a dinner of delicious ceviche alongside some pisco sours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lima - Leader led orientation walk of Miraflores
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Night Bites & Sights - Urban Adventures - USD68
  • Lima - Guided tour of San Francisco Monastery including The Catacombs - PEN20
  • Lima - Lima Discovery - Urban Adventures - USD37
  • Lima - Private Lima: Home Cooked Tour Urban Adventure (price from) - USD83
  • Lima Coast Biking Tour - Urban Adventures - USD52
  • Lima - Archaeological Museum - PEN15
  • Lima - Museum of the Inquisition - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
With no activities planned for today, you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you feel like you didn’t have much time in Lima at the start of your trip, perhaps stay on for a few extra days to see more of the city. We’ll be happy to assist with booking accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

local bus, Private vehicle, Taxi, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights)

Included activities

  • Quito - Leader Led Orientation Walk
  • Banos - Pailon del Diablo
  • Banos - The tree house
  • Pailon del Diablo waterfall (Devil's Cauldron) - Entrance fee
  • Cuenca - Leader Led Orientation walk
  • Lima - Leader led orientation walk of Miraflores

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase entrance fees to certain sites. Additionally, on certain trips, they're also needed to book bus, train or flight tickets. Delays in providing this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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